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The 6 Characteristics of a High Performing Development Team

by Victor Purolnik
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characteristics of a high performing development team

Introduction

Every SaaS company wants one but what really makes up a high-performing development team?

A high-performing team whether in software development or not delivers outstanding results, on time, with a level of autonomy and creativity. This is what sets them apart.

So what exactly makes these teams, often referred to as 10x teams, so effective?

Drawing insights from extensive experience with over 300 SaaS companies, we’ve identified six key characteristics that high-performing development teams share.

The Power of Small Teams

The adage “less is more” couldn’t be truer when it comes to software engineering teams.

Smaller teams are not just more agile; they require less management overhead, making them significantly more productive. What we’ve seen with the companies we’ve worked with is that lean teams enhance efficiency and reduce complexity.

Each member can take on more responsibility and feels a stronger sense of ownership over their work, leading to better results.

Seniority and Expertise

The very best high-performing software development teams have a foundation of senior developers whose expertise accelerates progress.

At the beginning of your saas journey, it can be tempting to go with junior or even mid-level developers due to factors such as expense. But if you want to build scalable and extendable software, you have to consider a mix with more experience.

The experience and knowledge of senior developers allow them to solve problems more efficiently and make better decisions, often outperforming a larger group of mid-level or junior developers.

This concentration of expertise ensures that the team can navigate challenges more smoothly and innovate more effectively.

Language and Culture

This factor seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how much it affects a lot of teams.

For a team to truly excel, having a similar enough culture and language is key.

Remote work has come with a host of advantages and believe it or not, remote work will actually bring out the very best of teams when implemented and built to function the right way

Everyone doesn’t even have to come from the same country or even continent, they just need to have at least a 2 to 3-hour overlap in working hours.

This means that everyone has the same shared expectations in terms of work and communication is ever-present.

Dedicated Full-timers

Similar to seniority, while it can be tempting to have a team of part-time software engineers, the commitment of full-time team members significantly impacts a team’s productivity.

Unlike part-timers, who might be juggling multiple projects, dedicated full-timers are fully invested in the team’s success.

These guys are more likely to think about the project outside of official working hours, bringing a level of dedication and creativity that part-time members may not match.

This “headspace” is crucial for the development of innovative solutions and the smooth progress of the project.

Versatility of Full-stack Developers

Full-stack developers play a pivotal role in all high-performance teams because of their ability to handle both front-end and back-end tasks.

We’ve seen these guys take ownership of entire features, from conception to deployment at almost all the companies we’ve worked with.

This versatility is especially valuable in smaller teams, where the ability to deliver complete solutions end-to-end can significantly boost efficiency.

As teams grow, the role of full-stack developers may evolve, but their impact in the early stages can be huge so make sure you have one in your corner!

Clear Technical and Product Guidelines

Finally, and perhaps the most critical element of a high-performing software development team is the presence of clear guidelines and a shared vision.

This can either come from you or your product advisory team.

When everyone understands the technical requirements, the product roadmap, and the customer journey, they’re able to make informed decisions independently.

This clarity reduces the need for micromanagement and allows team members to contribute more effectively to the project’s success.

Conclusion

Remember, high-performing development teams are not a product of chance. They are carefully crafted, combining the right mix of people, processes, culture, and the right leadership to bring it all together.

Some of the companies we’ve worked with have just been really good at sourcing and vetting during their hiring processes, while others have taken years to build up and train their teams to get to a high level.

At Trustshorng we are always happy to help you craft your ideal team so don’t hesitate to check out the blog, subscribe to our newsletter, and visit the Trustshoring YouTube page to learn more about how you can build and run a productive development team.

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Victor Purolnik

Trustshoring Founder

Author, speaker, and podcast host with 10 years of experience building and managing remote product teams. Graduated in computer science and engineering management. Has helped over 300 startups and scaleups launch, raise, scale, and exit.

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